Archive for July, 2012

foodiepal stamp2 Foodie Penpals

July Foodie Pen Pal Revel Day is here and I am super excited to share what I received this month. My July Pen Pal is Danielle over at Piggy Tummy. Cutest Blog Name EVER! She sent me some amazing stuff. Look at this spread of eats.

I’ll start with the jars:

  • Mild Giardiniera
  • Peperoncini & Feta Sandwich Spread
  • Hot Giardiniera

Yummy. I am very familiar with Giardiniera, but have not had it in a long time, so I am very happy to have received 2 jars of  it.  If you have never tried it, I highly recommend it. My grandmother use to make her own and we would have it topped on Italian Sausage Sandwiches, here’s the Skinny on Giardiniera:

Giardiniera   (noun)       jar-di-ne-ra

Italian meaning “from the garden”

  • a combination of pickled hot peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower, spices, steeped in a light vinaigrette.
  • used as a condiment on a variety of foods, sandwiches, pasta, omelettes, chili, soup
  • the #1 condiment served on the famous Chicago Beef Sandwich 

Along with the Giardiniera was this crazy fun sandwich spread. I have never seen it before, it’s made  by Mezzetta, and the flavor is Peperoncini & Feta. I immediately went online to the website and looked for recipes, and was really pleased to find several with my name on it. Check them out:

Macaroni and Cheese with Peperoncini and Feta Spread

Peperoncini, Kalamata and Tomato Crostini

Greek-Style Wrap with Peperoncini and Feta Spread

The website also suggests using the spread in or on any dish that you would use Mayo or Mustard on.  Here’s a few other ways to use the spread.

Other fun usage ideas:

• Egg or tuna salad
• Sausage sandwich
• Burgers

Now here’s a little treat I have never tried. Pina Colada Mallow Bites. They were amazing, I wanted to save some to top a sweet potato, but before I knew it, they were gone. My husband and I killed that bag like it was miniature sized.

Also received some BBQ seasoning. I love to BBQ and I am always looking for a new flavor. Really looking forward to trying this flavor out.

Some protein bars, which are both flavors I have never tried. They were a perfect snack on a long car ride I had to Upper Michigan to visit my parents, and they tasted great. I always like to pack easy foods I can eat on the road and the foodie box came just in time.

The card Danielle made was too cute, it was beautifully made, which I really loved. I’m a scrapbooker and I appreciate the work that goes into making your own cards. The last item I tried was the Unreal Chocolate Peanut Candies. They are the healthy version of the famous M&M candies. I have to tell you, I liked these better than M&M’s.

Wow, I really hit the jackpot this month. Danielle, thank-you so very much for a really fantasist foodie box, you did an amazing  job.

I sent a July Foodie Box to Christy over at Chocolate Covered Diamonds. Go on over and visit her, she is lovely and her blog is so much fun.

Want to become a Foodie Pen Pal? 

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

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So I joined a site called Vocalpoint back in 2011, they have offers on coupons and on occasion free products. So when they choose me to host an RSVP party I jumped on it. You had to invite 6 people to the party and they sent you a box full of full size products they wanted to introduce to consumers. They also sent a gift card so you could purchase snacks and decorations for your party.

So after work on a Friday I hosted the party for my co-workers. Best part, my boss lets me use the conference room at work. I just brought all the stuff with me.

Each person that attended received a coupon booklet with high valued coupons and a full size product after playing a short and fun game.

Look at all the items they sent. My guests were super excited.

I served Pom drinks, California rolls, hummus and pita wedges, cheese and crackers and Larabars cut up for a dessert.

These coupon books went over great. Me and my coworkers have a little coupon club going on. We all cut our coupons from the Sunday paper then we bring in the uncut coupons into work on Monday and we all share what we have left. We all like different types of foods and products so there are always coupons to share with one another, plus it’s fun. We also like to share our coupon saving stories over our lunch breaks.

Here’s me being the happy host. I love having parties, plus having mine at my works conference room is super fun and easy, no crazy cleaning and over planning, just a simple fun party and some fun foods. Over the years I have had a Lia Sophia Party, a Pampered Chef and a Thirty-One Bag Party at work. So glad my boss is so cool, and lets us girls use the conference room for fun little get togethers.

My friends really enjoyed the Lite Pom drinks.

The California Rolls did not go over well, my co-workers would not even try them, so I ate them later that night for dinner. I sometimes forget that not everyone likes to try new things.

The ladies loved the Larabars. Such an easy way to have a light finger food for dessert.

Hummus and pita squares were the item everyone really enjoyed.

The cheese and crackers were devoured.

The cheese ball didn’t stand a chance. I did not make the cheese ball, one of my co-workers brought it, I was so happy she did, it was so good.

Had a fun time prepping and hosting the RSVP party. Everyone walked away happy with their product, coupons and a belly full of fun snacks.

Hope your having a great summer! I have found that I don’t have as much time to blog, because I want to soak up as much summer fun time as I can. I guess you can say I have been enjoying a Summer Blog Schedule.

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So I had a party for one recently. My husband worked a double shift and it was 100 degrees outside so I drove 40 miles to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and did some serious shopping. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are favorite stores of mine, but since they are so far away, I really only get there every 3 months or so. When I do go, I go big! I really love that both stores are within 1 block from each other. I brought my huge freezer bag and 8 frozen cooler packs. Once I was done shopping at Whole Foods, I packed the freezer bag full and brought it into Trader Joe’s with me. Even though I had the freezer bag, I was not going to risk my sushi spoiling.

Here’s what I feasted on once I arrived home.

Squid and Mountain Vegetables (chuka Ika-sansai). This was by far the best new food item I have tried in a long time. The squid was tender and the vegetables were crunchy and a little bit spicy.

Spicy Tuna Avocado Rolls.

Seared Albacore Rainbow Rolls.

Squid, Sushi Party for One.  Yes, please.

I also snagged a container of figs. They were kinda pricey, but figs are worth it. I only get them fresh one time per year so I splurged.

What can I say, I’ll drive distances for good food.

Hope your having a great day.

Question of the Day: What’s you favorite Sushi? I’m a huge Spicy Tuna Roll fan.

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Tonight I craved pasta, so I thought long and hard about what kind of pasta I wanted and nothing came to mind, so I let the ingredients I had on hand guide me.

I grabbed some items out of the fridge. Fresh spinach, feta cheese, asparagus and broccoli. I also had some brats that I thought my husband would love in his pasta bowl.

So first things first, I started the grill for the brats.

Then I chopped the broccoli and trimmed the asparagus and got them ready to roast on the grill. Roasted on the top shelf of the grill for 17 minutes lightly seasoned. Brats went on the bottom rack for the 17 minutes of grill time, and I turned them once. While that was roasting I got my pasta going. Used a can of chicken broth and brought the noodles to a boil. Added the fresh spinach and cooked for 12 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Once the pasta was done I added the feta cheese and the roasted broccoli and tossed together.

Grabbed the brats from the grill and sliced them into chunks. Used the asparagus as a side vegetable.

Put it all together and there you have the Pasta Bowl. This bowl was Jeff’s.

And this Pasta Bowl was mine.

Looking back at the assembly of this dish, I cannot get over how easy it was. I had 4 main ingredients, 3 were on the grill and the pasta on the stove. It really only took 30 minutes to complete, and it cured my pasta craving. I love my grill, it makes throwing a dinner together easy.

Snapped a few pictures. I love summer and outdoor living. I live for outdoor walks, eating outdoors, taking pictures of the great outdoors.

I harassed this little worker for about 5 minutes, he could careless, he was too busy doing his work.

He was Bee-utiful.

Stuart helping me weed.

Enjoy your day!

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I have such a fun and easy meal I’d like to share with you today. I was at Sam’s Club recently and you all know those sample carts that attract all the shoppers, well I fell prey to one that was sampling this Asian Chop Salad. I was sold instantly. Where have I been? Everyone I told about this salad already knew about it. Well I am so glad I finally caught on to it.

So I paired the salad with grilled tofu and some California Sushi Rolls.  I used my basic marinade for the tofu and just grilled it for 7 minutes on each side. I always grill on medium heat. I also used my Tofu press.

If you ever see this salad, grab it, it is fresh, tangy and delicious, but I am sure you already know about it.

Packed with crunch and flavor.

Perfect meal for a hot summer day.

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So back a month ago this was the starting grow of the corn field that I hike. That lovely red lab is my friend Decal, she is the next door neighbors dog to the farm and she joins me most days when I walk the farm. She is great company and she loves walking as much as I do. As soon as Decal sees me pull into the farm she comes running after me so we can take our walk together.

Look at the corn today. It has really grown.

Decal is my pal. She is really a great friend to me. She is loyal, honest and always has my back. She never judges me and is always super happy to see me. That is what I consider a true friend.

She loves to smell every inch of that trail.

Sometimes another friend joins us. That’s Molly. She is also another neighbors dog and she and Decal are good friends. So on occasion, Molly joins us.

Molly sometimes falls behind, but she always catches up eventually. I never worry about losing one of the dogs on our walk, they always come back and find me, plus they are at the farm everyday, and never wander off.  They are both good girls and know the walking routine.

I really love watching the corn grow, it is so fun to see the progress from week to week and sometimes even day-to-day depending on the weather.

This is field corn. These crops will be made into Ethanol. Field Corn is not meant for human consumption. It is used for several purposes, animal feed or as a burning source or for Ethanol. It gets super tall, and it normally gets harvested in late October through December and one year I remember them still harvesting some of the crops on New Years Day.

I walked the trail every day last week and I had a K-9 friend join me every day. Decal found me all week and Molly joined us two days in a row. Great exercise for all, and I love the company. When Decal does not see me on my way into the farm, I stop by her house to get her or I go to the farms shop where she sometimes hangs out. I do consider Decal to be one of my best friends. People always laugh when they see that I have pictures of her in my house, but to me she is like any another friend of mine, K-9 or not, a friend is a friend.

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Leftover party at my house. I had some goodies stored away and thought why not pull them all out and have a mixed bag for dinner. So we had leftover Mayan Harvest Bake, Tofu Kale Lasagna and Polenta Pizza Snacks. 

I love having meals frozen that I can just thaw enjoy. I was so happy that the Tofu Lasagna thawed and reheated so well. I was worried it was going to be watery and mushy, but it was perfect.

I also took some fresh raspberries and bagged them up into snack bags and froze them. I always keep frozen fruit on hand for making smoothies. Here are a few of my favorite smoothies Recovery Smoothie, Kale Smoothie. Whenever a banana gets a bit brown in my house I jump all over it. I peel, slice and bag.

Strawberries also got sliced, bagged and stored for future use.

Piled high.

By freezing all my fruit I do not need to add ice cubes to my smoothies.

I have good news, the Swans on the lake have finally unveiled their Cygnet. I was not sure what the proper term was for a group of baby Swans, so I Googled it, and sure enough, it said a group of Baby Swans are called Cygnet. Thanks Google. The male swan did this crazy fly by over the entire lake. He was making a low honking noise, as if to announce the proud moment. After his flight he went back to the nest and proudly swan out with his new family. It was really one of the coolest things I have ever witnessed.

They are really protective of their babies and have stayed close to their nest which happens to be at the end of the lake where there is not much boat traffic. There are 4 babies, they are fuzzy and staying super close to mom and dad. So exciting to see them all together.

I also got a picture of Harvey our local Blue Heron. Since I have been perched on my deck with my camera waiting to get a picture of the swans, I was lucky to catch Harvey while he was looking for a place to fish. All the neighbors on the lake call the Blue Herons on the lake Harvey, it’s one of those things that sticks after someone says it.

I love watching him fly and land, he is very graceful. He is normally silent when he flies, but when he is mad after being disturbed by jet skiers or boaters he makes this prehistoric sound while flying away. Still cracks me up every time I hear it.

So I had a fun day, so excited that the Swans are finally here.

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So this grumpy little guy fell out of his nest early. He perched himself on the Concrete Turtle that my Stuart loves to jump on. Looks like Big T has a new friend. Fearing my dogs would get him, I went and grabbed my gardening gloves, put down my camera and went over to grab him and move him to a safer place.

So here’s what happened. I picked little grumpy up and was immediately attacked by both his parents. It scared the heck right out of me. I am so glad I had my hair up in a bun on the top of my head, because these Robins went straight for my head and one of them actually hit me in the bun on my head. Flash backs to one of my first horror movie The Birds came streaming back….But I was on a mission to move this little one for his own safety.

It did not bother them when I was taking his picture, I actually did not even see them or hear them anywhere near me, but once I had him in my hands they pounced on me. I was able to get him into the front yard and placed him near a bush and he hopped under it and I ran back into the back yard. They were flying down on me and making enough noise to alert the entire neighborhood. I have rescued birds before, but have never been attacked by them, I guess there is a first for everything. I’d do it again, I will just wear my motorcycle helmet next time!

Grumpy hung out in my front yard for the next few days, with mom and dad staying very close and keeping an eye out for me. I have not seen him since so I like to imagine him flying high and telling stories of the human he escaped from.

So anyway, enough with the bird stories for now, and onto some food talk.

I made a steak, egg, blue cheese and brussels salad. I roasted the brussels on the grill for 20 minutes, fried the egg and used some pre-cooked fajita steak meat to create this really fun dinner. Along with the salad I also made an easy dressing, I took A-1 steak sauce, a splash of balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard and mixed it all together and lightly coated the lettuce with it. I had no idea what I was setting out to make, but it sure did turn out well. Plus the toasted pita squares really added to the meal.

Sometimes the meals thrown together on the fly are the best. I smashed it all up together and dug in.

Now back to some more bird news. So during a recent visit with the chickens at my neighbors farm, I left with a parting gift.

Poison Ivy. I was visiting my Lovely Ladies and pulled some weeds in the coop that seemed to be growing like crazy. I did have gloves on, but when I stacked up the weeds in my arms to move out of the coop, I had on short sleeves and ended up getting poison ivy on my upper arms by my biceps. Within 5 minutes I knew I came into contact with something because my arms were on fire. So I went to my doctor and got a cortisone shot and some cream to help with the itching. What is it with birds and me lately?

Sometimes you have to take the good and the bad. It makes me think of the theme song from the Facts of Life TV show. Back in the day, that was my favorite show. That show ran from 1979 to 1988. I seriously grew up watching that show. I really did learn the Facts of Life from those girls. Well I’m off, hope you have a great day free from attacking birds and poison ivy plants.

Question of the Day:  Have you ever had poison ivy? I sure hope I never get it again.

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So I am seriously into frozen treats this summer, now that I have been making my own. I am hooked. Can you blame me? These little pops are perfect as a snack on a hot day. Between these, the frozen fruit bars and the Chobani Granola Pops I made a few weeks ago, I am digging my freezer.

After they were ready, I grabbed one and went outside to enjoy my chilly treat on the front porch.

Killian Approved!  Don’t judge. My dogs are like my kids.

I am going to be taking some vacation time for the 4th. of July holiday. I plan on spending time with family and friends so I am going to unplug today after work. Hope you enjoy the holiday.

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